Yosemite Fire Threatens Giant Sequoia Trees in Merced Grove

Image: Yosemite Fire Threatens Giant Sequoia Trees in Merced Grove El Portal Fire burning near Yosemite National Park, California. (Stuart Palley/EPA/Landov)

Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 08:31 AM

By Newsmax Wires

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A fire in Yosemite National Park is threatening a grove of giant sequoia trees after burning through more than five square miles and forcing the evacuation of about 100 homes.

The Merced Grove of giant sequoia was threatened, according to the U.S. Forest Service.  Sequoia are huge ancient trees closely related to redwoods.

The Associated Press reported that evacuation orders were lifted for about half the homes in the path of the Yosemite blaze and firefighters were redeployed to another fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento.

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Residents of Old El Portal were permitted to return home Tuesday. About 45 homes in the community of Foresta remained evacuated, park fire information spokeswoman Jennifer Wuchner said.

The fire in the foothills, which forced the evacuation of more than 400 homes, was 85 percent contained after burning 6 1/2 square miles.

Crews discovered six more homes destroyed by the foothills fire, bringing the total to 19, state fire Battalion Chief Scott McLean said. The fire, which began Friday, also has claimed 48 outbuildings.

Both fires grew rapidly over the weekend before being brought under control. Their spread underscored the tinder-dry conditions resulting from California's third year of drought.

Residents of the Sierra foothills fire said they were forced to evacuate quickly, and some vowed to keep a list of items to take with them in case of another blaze.

Laurel Fulton, a 66-year-old evacuee, had to leave behind an obstinate horse.

"When the sheriff is banging on your window yelling, `Get out now, get out now,' you don't have much of a choice," Fulton said.

Fulton said the fire was so hot and so fast, the sand along a nearby river burned to glass. She managed to rescue four dogs, a cat and her other horse. She said her neighbor stayed behind and has been reporting that her horse is OK.

Fire crews also were battling a 3-square-mile blaze in the Sierra National Forest about 60 miles northeast of Fresno that shut down some campgrounds and was threatening 28 structures, some of them homes.

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